Last week we reported that we found two new Rhinopias fish in Lembeh, but what are they?
Rhinopias are actually a scorpionfish, and they are one of the top 10 critters that photographers come to Lembeh for and so are pretty special.
Like other scorpionfish, Rhinopias utilize camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. They are a rare fish, and we have not had them in Lembeh Straits for a long time. We hope that they will not be scared away by all the photographers, but please do not be disappointed if they are not here when you visit.
Six species of Rhinopias
There are 2 members of this genus that are commonly seen by divers in Lembeh Straits:
Rhinopias frondosa – Weedy scorpionfish
This is the only species of filamentous Rhinopias that is found in Indonesia. Specimens found in rocky, algae rich waters are covered in weed-like appendages, whereas specimens found in deeper soft-bottomed waters with soft corals and sponges have fewer appendages.
The color can range vastly from dark red, white, yellow, and purple to yellow and lavender. The variations differ so vastly that the specimens are often misidentified as between this species and the Lacy and Eschmeyers scorpionfish.
It shares the same habitat as Eschmeyers scorpionfish and the two often co-occur.
Rhinopias eschmeyeri – Eschmeyer’s scorpionfish
This is also known as the Paddle Flap Scorpionfish, and is the easiest species to identify. The body is generally only one colour with very few other markings, and red, pink and purple individuals have been reported.
Unlike the Weedy scorpionfish, there are hardly any filaments on the skin and the dorsal fins are completely lacking in skin filaments or indentations adjacent to the spines. Another way they differ from the Weedy scorpionfish is that they have two tentacles on the underside of the lower jaw.
The other four species of Rhinopias are very restricted in range. Three of them are not very well known, and there were no available photos for two of them!
Rhinopias aphanes – Lacy scorpionfish
This is endemic to the Coral Sea area of Papua New Guinea, Great Barrier Reef, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.
They inhabit coral slopes or soft bottom habitat, and are found on rich coral bommies and walls sitting out in the open, mimicking crinoids. The patterning on the body is made up of a network of line rather than spots, and colouration is just as variable as the Weedy and Eschmeyer’s scorpionfish.
Rhinopias xenops – Hawaiian scorpionfish
Distribution Countries is Pacific Ocean: Hawaii and the Kii Peninsula, Japan.
Rhinopias argoliba – Japanese scorpionfish
No photo found. Distribution is Northwest Pacific: known only from Sagami Bay, Japan.
Rhinopias cea – Cea’s scorpionfish
No photo found. Distribution is Eastern Pacific: known only from Easter Island.
Come and dive Lembeh Straits with us!